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Organizing Closets and Drawers

Organizing Good Things 2004, Volume 2004 Special Issue 2004

10 Tips for Organizing Your Closet
Storing your clothes well means they'll always look their best. And when your closets and drawers are well organized, you'll find you wear more of your clothes more often.

1. Divide the closet into zones, and use three short rods rather than a single long one. Hang dresses, robes, and coats from one high rod; hang blouses and short items from another high rod, and skirts and folded slacks from a low rod below.

2. Group clothes by color.

3. Stack cubbies across the closet floor to create space for shoes.

4. Make sure shelves are adjustable, and line them with smooth vinyl matting, usually used to protect drafting tables. Cut the matting to fit each shelf, and fasten it with double-sided tape.

5. Clean garments before storing them for the season. Sugar stains (such as wine) can set and spread over time. View our stain chart for information about treating stains.

6. Remove dry-cleaning bags, which trap moisture; use fabric bags instead. And don't store wool or silk in airtight containers -- they need to breathe.

7. Line very light garments with acid-free tissue.

8. Fibers can dry out if the closet temperature is consistently above 75 degrees.

9. Never let mothballs touch clothing; hang them in old socks or hosiery. If you suspect moth infestation, dry-clean the clothes, and wash the closet with mild soap and water.

10. Before storing heavy coats, stuff the arms with acid-free tissue.

Organizing Dresser Drawers
These strategies will help you organize your dresser drawers.

Accessories Drawer: Line shallow top drawers with velvet (use archival glue to back the velvet with poster board). This will provide plush support for delicate items such as scarves and jewelry. Martha likes to use small aluminum containers to store notions.

Sweater Drawer: Use a deep drawer for sweaters -- never hang knits -- and place cedar blocks inside to fend off moths.

Knitwear, Stockings, and T-shirts: Create removable compartments that fit your clothes (placing small boxes inside drawers for items such as underwear and socks), and make the fewest folds possible in order to reduce creasing. Line drawers with acid-free tissue paper.

Pants Drawer: Save a drawer for khakis and jeans. Acid-free paper will protect them from splinters and acids in the wood.

Comments (15)

  • 11 May, 2013

    I have a problem. My new closet does not have a place to hang my dresses. Do you know of any solutions that I can use so that I can hang my dresses in my bedroom closet? I don't have room in any closet in my house for them. My closet does have a rod that runs across it, but there is a second rod and shelf about 4 feet below it. Any ideas?

  • 12 Mar, 2009

    Sorry you don't like arranging by color. I never considered it, either, till I saw this suggestion by Martha. When I rearranged my closet by color I found I had WAY too many of black and blue blouses and I found some I had never worn. I was able to weed out unused clothing much easier and I can now tell what I really need. Same with pants and dresses. So I have stopped sniveling and started taking advice from someone much wiser that myself.

  • 6 Sep, 2008

    thanks mimadocken, awesome idea!!!

  • 4 Sep, 2008

    I don't consider myself organized, but organizing clothing according to color helps when getting dressed and when putting clothes away. If I am looking for something blue, I don't have to paw through everything to find what looks best. Try it, you may like it!

  • 4 Sep, 2008

    my house is 150 years old and has 3 closets...I have a bureau in the hall that doubles as a linen closet, a large chest which holds towels and under bed storage to store out of season clothing. Those plastic bags that you can use a vacuum to remove the air out of them, work, and they take up very little space. Extra pillows for guests are put into decorative pillow shams on beds too. I have a wardrobe on my back porch that hold heavy coats for storage and when they are in use.

  • 4 Sep, 2008

    I have a suggestion for Cathrynmb's problem of having no closet space. I bought a used entertainment center in a style I liked (Craigslist.com and eBay are great for finding things at bargain prices) and put a hanging bar in the top half for hanging shirts and shorter things. Then I added square-sided baskets in place of drawers. I get so many compliments on it, and I reserve closets for long clothes.

  • 4 Sep, 2008

    My 75-yr-old 2-BR house has exactly TWO closets in it, 1 in each BR. My closet doubles as a linen closet, the vacuum is crammed into our kids' closet. HELP!

  • 4 Sep, 2008

    I am in the midst of doing a remodel on a small closet right now. I basically just riped everything out, had a carpenter put up new walls and now a have a white plain box. This is were the fun comes in. I went to IKEA.com (ok, sorry for the advert and no, I do not work there) and designed a "free standing" closet. It was so much cheaper than going to a closet designer and can always be changed around. Good Luck!

  • 4 Sep, 2008

    I don't agree with grouping clothing my colour.

  • 4 Sep, 2008

    My closet is 4 ft. wide and about 12 ft. tall. In hang my husband's clothes in another closet. Do you have any ideas on how to organize such a small place? Thanks a lot for your advice!

  • 4 Sep, 2008

    My closet, where I hang only my clothes (my husbands are in another closet as small as mine), about 4 ft. wide and 12 ft tall. Any ideas on how to organize such a small space? Thanks a lot for your advice!

  • 4 Sep, 2008

    My closet, where I hang only my clothes (my husbands are in another closet as small as mine), about 4 ft. wide and 12 ft tall. Any ideas on how to organize such a small space? Thanks a lot for your advice!

  • 4 Sep, 2008

    I plan on buying this to help me organize my small closet. It's perfect because it's adjustable.

    http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?order_num=-1

  • 4 Sep, 2008

    I plan on buying this to help me organize my small closet. It's perfect because it's adjustable.

    http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?order_num=-1

  • 3 Sep, 2008

    My closet is in need of a totall dramatic makover! it is such a small space and is so cluttered i don't know what to do, it is about a 12ft wide and about 4 foot tall and i need something like a shelf that could keep all my clothes and accessories in order! please help!